Open Enrollment for the 2024 Plan Year: Oct 23rd - Nov 3rd

The Coming 2024 Plan Year

2024 Benefits Plan Highlights 

Your Human Resources Benefits Team has been working hard to secure the best comprehensive employee benefits package possible and is excited to roll out the plan for 2024. The centerpiece of any group benefits package is the health insurance policy, and SPU will continue to offer one of the most generously affordable, benefit-rich plans for employees in higher education or most any industry. After many years without any rate or design changes, the 2024 plan will experience modest cost adjustments for employees as the University will continue to fund the lion’s share of the cost of the plan for employees’ families and fund 100% of the cost for employees’ health, dental, and vision coverage. Below is a brief summary of some key information about the health insurance plan and other benefits to help get you ready to elect the best options for you and your family for the coming year. 

Open Enrollment Happening Now!  

Open Enrollment is coming October 23 – November 3, 2023 for the benefit plan year which begins January 1, 2024. Open Enrollment is the annual period when eligible employees may begin/end coverage, add/drop dependents, or move between plan offerings for 2024 without having experienced a qualifying (major life-changing) event. These optional changes are completed through Banner, and we will provide guidance in the next few days. Because of the minor changes to the rates and plan design, we are encouraging every employee to carefully review the information to determine the best options for them and their families. Employees who do not actively engage the open enrollment process through Banner will continue to be enrolled in same plan options they have previously elected. However, employees enrolled in FSAs and Voluntary Life and AD&D Insurance will need to make those elections through an active process. FSA elections may be executed through Banner, but Voluntary Life and AD&D enrollment will require meeting with a representative of our new vendor. SPU has secured a new agreement for life insurance with Unum/Colonial Life. This arrangement will provide better rates and a higher guaranteed issue for employees but will require meeting with a company representative to execute initial enrollment. Participation in the University-provided basic life insurance plan requires no action, and employees will continue to be covered at the same benefit level

Open Enrollment is an important window - it is the one time each year where benefit-eligible employees may: 1) add or drop coverage, 2) move between plan options, and/or 3) add or drop dependents from plan coverage. Outside of Open Enrollment, one must experience a 'qualifying life event' in order to make similar changes (various deadlines also apply). Please review the following:

Do you have questions about specifics of the medical plan benefits, provider networks, or prescription drug plan? If so, please contact the Aetna Health Concierge line at 1 (833) 735-0680.

Table of Contents

New Rates Better than State Average

We are pleased to announce that even with the 2023 average insurance increase being 9.11% in Washington State we were able to keep our increase lower than the State average, just under 7%. Premiums for the Employee Only and Employee+Family tiers will remain unchanged for full-time employees, and the Employee+Spouse and Employee+Child(ren) tiers will experience modest increases for the first time in more than 7 years. Other necessary changes are slight increases to the plan deductibles and Out-of-Pocket maximums after a decade at the same levels. To help employees and their families better manage healthcare expenses, the University is also increasing its annual matching contributions to our Health Savings Accounts (HSA) in all tiers by an additional $200.

Below are additional details.

Recap--What You Can Expect for 2024

  1. The Vision plan will remain unchanged.
  2. The Medical and Dental plans have slight increases to both the University and the Employee premium/contribution.
  3. Our deductibles and out of pocket maximums have increased for the first time in over 10 years but are still below average. Employee only was $2,000 deductible now $2,500 and Out-of-Pocket maximum was $3,425, now $4,000. For Employee-Plus tiers deductible was $4,000, now $5,000, and Out-of-Pocket maximum was $6,850, now $8,000.
  4. The current monthly SPU contribution structure for the HSA and HRA plans will continue, but the SPU HSA Annual Match Contribution will increase an additional $200 in all tiers to help offset increases.

Medical Plan

Employee Only$0$230

Employee + Spouse

Employee + Child(ren)$155$395
Employee + Family$640$900

Dental Plan


Employee Only


Employee + Spouse$62$86
Employee + Child(ren)$59


Employee + Family$122$146

Vision Plan

Full-time & Part-time

Employee Only


Employee + Spouse$10
Employee + Child(ren)$12
Employee + Family$24

What is a Deductible?

A deductible is the amount you pay each year for eligible health care expenses before your insurance plan will begin to pay for covered expenses.

For example, if you are enrolled in individual medical coverage, you have a $2,500 annual deductible. You will be responsible to pay for all of your covered health care services until you have paid $2,500 that year.

Once you have paid $2,500, Aetna will start to pay their share of the following costs (this is called 'coinsurance') at a rate of paying 90% if using an In-Network service provider and 60% if you use an Out-of-Network provider until you reach your annual out-of-pocket maximum. After that, the plan will pay for 100% of the covered medical expenses. 

If you have family coverage, meaning you cover at least one dependent on your medical plan, then a family deductible of $5,000 applies to everyone taken together.

Why are HSAs So Powerful?

  1. It's your money! You own it, the HSA is portable; even if you change SPU plan options, leave SPU, or retire.
  2. It's very tax-favored! HSAs enjoy what we call a 'triple tax advantage': the contributions are pre-tax, you can get tax-free growth on those funds while you hold them, and distributions that cover eligible health expenses are also tax-free.
  3. The HSA funds can grow! Once you have a minimum amount, you can invest in a selection of funds through HSA Bank's investment options. But be cautious, these funds are intended for your health expenses.
  4. HSAs are also retirement accounts! Because you keep the funds, you can take your HSA into retirement and use the funds tax-free for health expenses then. Further, once you are 65, you can withdrawal funds like any other retirement account and only pay regular income tax on it (no penalty is assessed, like prior to age 65).
  5. HSAs are flexible! You are in control of your funds and can contribute up to IRS limits and spend on health costs for any of your tax-dependents, even if they are not enrolled in the SPU medical plans.

What is an Annual Maximum?

Each year that you are covered on the plan (our 'plan year' follows the calendar year), Aetna will keep track of all the covered medical and prescription expenses you have to pay for. These might be in the form of deductible expenses, coinsurance (where you pay a percentage of costs after the deductible is covered), or prescription costs. 

This is very important because it puts a limit on what you could owe if you or a covered family member needs high cost medical care; or if several people in your family do.

If you have Employee Only coverage, your annual out-of-pocket maximum is $4,000 per year. If you cover a family member on your medical plan, the maximum increases to $8,000 with all family members taken together. (There is an exception for those with family coverage that have only one person with high costs: a separate limit of $4,000 is applied to that individual's costs so that one person cannot make a family owe the entire family maximum.)

How Does SPU Help Offset Deductible Expenses?

To help with the deductible, which resets back to zero each January, SPU contributes the amounts in the table below into an HSA based on your plan choice for 2024. These figures assume that your participation in the plan is for all 12 months, and you make enough employee HSA contributions (from your own payroll deductions) to trigger the SPU match up to the annual cap that applies to you based on your plan enrollment.

An equivalent annual contribution is made into the Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) for those who choose to enroll in that plan. The HRA allows all of these funds to be available right away but there are no employee contributions allowed, by IRS regulations. While unused HRA funds rollover from year-to-year; if you leave HRA plan enrollment, SPU retains the unused funds at that time.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

If you are enrolled in a Health Savings Account (HSA), SPU will contribute monthly to an HSA on your behalf plus a dollar-for-dollar match of your HSA contributions, up to the annual maximum.

HDHP Coverage LevelSPU Monthly ContributionsSPU Match of Employee HSA ContributionsTotal Possible SPU HSA Contributions per Year
Individual$84Up to $600 per plan year*$1,608 in 2024
Family$168Up to $1,000 per plan year**$3,016 in 2024

*If you have Individual coverage and contribute by payroll deduction to your HSA during 2024, SPU will match your HSA contributions dollar-for dollar, up to $600 for the year.

**If you have Family coverage and contribute by payroll deduction to your HSA during 2024, SPU will match your HSA contributions dollar-for-dollar, up to $1,000 for the year.  

Tip: For those who participate in the HSA, with SPU’s additional contributions, be sure to review your contribution plan to ensure that all HSA contributions will not exceed the annual IRS maximums ($4,150 for self-coverage and $8,300 for family coverage). You may change your HSA pre-tax contribution amounts once per pay period. Please take advantage of your personalized HSA Calculator to help you plan appropriately.

HSA funds belong to the account holder and are portable: unused funds do rollover to the next plan year. If you change coverage to the HRA plan or otherwise lose eligibility to this plan, contributions to the HSA are no longer allowed but you do keep current funds in the HSA to be used for qualifying health expenses in the future.

Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA)

If you are enrolled in a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), SPU will fund the below amounts to an HRA setup on your behalf, based on your HDHP enrollment. 

Coverage LevelSPU Contributions for 2024

Eligible reimbursements through the HRA are for the employee and also eligible dependents that are enrolled on the HDHP plan as a dependent under the employee's medical coverage. If an otherwise qualified dependent is not enrolled on the HDHP medical plan, their expenses are not eligible for reimbursement from this HRA plan.

If a participant remains covered on this HRA plan from year-to-year and does not use up all the funds available, the unused HRA funds from the prior year will rollover and be added to the funding available in subsequent plan years.

However, once coverage under this HRA plan is ended, either because of moving over to the HSA plan or because of changing employment (or losing benefit eligibility), the funds remaining in the HRA are returned back to the plan at that time. Thus, HRA funds are not portable.

HRA contributions are pro-rated on a monthly basis for those with midyear changes.

 Flexible Spending Accounts - FSAs Require Annual Re-enrollment

If you participate in our Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), please review the contribution limits for 2024 as they have been adjusted for the new plan year. There is a small increase that the IRS announced for the Health FSA, based on cost of living changes (the Dependent Care FSA is, by law, not similarly indexed and continues to remain the same amount). If there are multiple adults in a household with access to a Health FSA, both may use this benefit through their employer in the same tax year; they may be 'stacked'.

If you are considering using the Dependent Care FSA, please note that each household may only use this tax-favored vehicle once per tax year, you cannot have two spouses both using this from their own employer. Further, you may only use the Dependent Care FSA or the Dependent Care tax credit in a given tax year, not both. 

FSA Contribution Limits for 2024*

Health FSA

Limited-Purpose FSA**

(Dental & Vision Only)

Dependent Care FSA


*increase from $3,050 in 2023


*increase from $3,050 in 2023


*no change as of 10.20.2023

**A Limited-purpose FSA is designed to be paired with someone that has an HSA. Remember, if you enroll in a basic Health FSA, that makes you ineligible to make or receive any HSA contributions. But for those on the HSA plan, they are only allowed to use the Limited-Purpose FSA without becoming ineligible for HSA contributions. That is because the Limited-Purpose FSA is only allowed to be used for dental and vision expenses. A very common use of the Limited-Purpose FSA is to cover the costs of orthodontia. Orthodontia is a large, known expense and if you want to preserve your HSA funds, you may use the Limited-Purpose FSA to pay for orthodontia to help retain your HSA funds.

Dates to keep in mind:

March 15th, 2025: The deadline to incur expenses for FSA reimbursement based on the 2024 plan year.

March 31st, 2025: All 2024 FSA claims must be submitted to HSA Bank for reimbursement, otherwise they will be forfeited.

Life Insurance Changes

Our Basic Life insurance (provided by SPU) is changing carriers to Unum and our Voluntary Life insurance is switching to Colonial Life (both part of the Unum Group). The new voluntary life insurance option increases the guaranteed issue (GI) amount from our current $150,000 to $200,000 and gives us all a fantastic, more than 50% cost savings. All benefit eligible employees can get a GI $200,000 policy, a GI $25,000 spouse policy, and GI $10,000 for each eligible child. You are able to apply for amounts greater than the guaranteed issue amounts, however, you or your spouse/family members may need a health assessment to be approved for amounts above the GI. To make the necessary switch of Voluntary Life insurance, you will need to meet with a Colonial Representative, which we will have on campus appointments every weekday through open enrollment. Otherwise, your current voluntary life policy will lapse on 1/1/2024.

You can book an appointment with a Colonial Life representative during the benefits fair (October 24-25, 2023) or outside the benefits fair any day from 10/23/2023-11/03/2023 here:

Additional Voluntary Benefits available through Colonial Life

You have the option to apply for these voluntary benefits from Colonial Life. The link below has 5 quick videos that help explain the Accident, Critical Illness, Cancer, Hospital Indemnity and Life Insurance plans.

Colonial Life 2022 - 19

Click the names below to view a flier and learn more.

Group accident insurance                      
Group critical illness insurance    
Group hospital indemnity insurance